Catching up with the lovely Sarah at Dervla McTiernan's Dymocks Literary Luncheon (Four Seasons Sydney - Feb 2020)
As many of you know, I am a graduate of Fiona McIntosh's phenomenal writing masterclass https://www.fionamcintosh.com/masterclass/ which is held twice a year in Adelaide.
Well today I have the pleasure of introducing you Sarah Clutton who is not only a fellow Masterclasser, but the recipient of the coveted Dymocks/Fiona McIntosh Commercial Fiction Scholarship in 2018.
I recently caught up with Sarah at the Masterclass National Convention and had her sign a copy of her fabulous debut novel, Good Little Liars https://www.booktopia.com.au/good-little-liars-sarah-clutton/ebook/9781838880293.html
Good Little Liars was a riveting read, a real page-turner. It is about marriage breakdowns, old friends and the lies we tell to protect ourselves and others.
The calibre of this novel was startling, especially considering it was Sarah's debut. The story is a gripping domestic crime/suspense novel and, as a former lawyer who majored in psychology, Sarah writes scenes with an authenticity that jumps off the pages. If you adored Sally Hepworth's amazing novel The Mother-in-law https://www.sallyhepworthauthor.com/ you will love Good Little Liars.
And now, Sarah has another feather in her bow...her second novel, The Daughter's Promise. I am so excited to turn the first page as after reading her debut, I am excited to see what Sarah has in store for us this time.
But before I hand you over to Sarah, I will also let you in on a little secret. Not only does Sarah live in the picturesque southern NSW town of Bowral (how divine is that vista as seen out the window behind her desk!) she runs the most breathtakingly beautiful rental property called The Book Shed, which has the same magical view!
Perfect for a writer's retreat or weekend getaway...it is definitely on my bucket list for 2020. https://www.airbnb.com.au/rooms/7481344?source_impression_id=p3_1584251291_KbKFq7lkVM7C%2Fjog
The Book Shed...insert major drooling...
Q1: What piece of advice do you wish you'd been given when working on your very first manuscript?
A: Do a novel-writing course and stop doubting your ability to finish the job. If you can write a decent sentence, you can do it! It’s just perseverance and a steep learning curve.
Here is the pic of my writing space.
Lovely view onto the paddocks and overlooking Bowral.
(Oh Sarah...that view...I am having serious writing room envy right now!)
Q2: If you could have written ANY book besides your own, what would it be? A: Perfume by Patrick Süskind. Quite apart from the fact that it’s translated from German and is still a masterpiece in the English language, how does a novelist make a story so vivid, when it’s entirely based around a sense of smell? I’ve read this “story of a murderer” many times, and I’m still am in awe of the writing. Otherwise, maybe Enduring Love, or anything written by Ian McEwan really.
Q3: What is the first book that made you cry?
A: I cry at the drop of a hat. Seriously. In every single movie I’ve seen in the last few years I’ve managed anything from shedding a quiet tear in the corner, to sobbing with pig-snorting enthusiasm (much to the horror of my spouse and children). I even cry in happy kids’ movies. I also cry over most books I read. I cry when I write my own scenes! So the first book to make me cry was probably The Famous Five or something equally un-worthy of tears. I think crying is underrated.
Q4: Coffee, tea or ? (what is your favourite drink?)
A: Coffee, no… tea. No, actually, can I say wine? Or maybe gin. Although I do love a Moscow Mule…
Q5: What is the next book on your TBR (to be read) pile?
A: I’ve just started The Kiss of Saddam, by my friend Michelle McDonald. For fiction, though, I’ve just picked up Lisa Jewell’s latest book The Family Upstairs, and I’m desperate to read Silver by Chris Hammer as I really enjoyed Scrublands.
Q6: Choose one male & one female character from your novel. In a film adaptation, who would you love to see play them?
A: In my latest book, The Daughter’s Promise, I’d love Richard Roxburgh (Rake. Sigh!!!) to play Dan, the faithless prat that he is. Although, he’d have to age a few years. Dan is sixty-four. And for his wife Annabelle… maybe Magda Szubanski. Magda’s got the joie de vivre and she is just so gorgeous.
These are some pics that are special to me as they are taken in the exact setting for The Daughter’s Promise, which is set in a fictional version of Boat Harbour in North West Tasmania and the surrounding farmlands. I renamed it Sisters Cove in the Book. This is where my family comes from and the pristine and spectacular ocean and countryside makes my heart sing whenever I visit.
Q7: Name one thing you couldn't live without?
A: Space. I like living in a country town. In the city I feel a little bit like I’m going to implode at any minute. Or possibly do something violently illegal when the traffic noises get inside my head.
Q8: What is your dream holiday destination?
A: A remote Welsh farmhouse, possibly teetering on windy cliff face by the ocean, with a log fire, a well-stocked library, a good stash of wine and cheese and a very good coffee shop in the closest village. Other people are optional.
Q9: If you had to choose a career besides writer, what would it be?
A: A journalist. Does that count? Otherwise, a teacher.
Q10: What's the hardest scene you have ever written and why was it so hard?
A: Apart from a gruelling assault scene or two (which are emotionally hard but remarkably easy to actually write, having sat through so many criminal trials in my earlier career) I would say the hardest scene is definitely the first scene of the book. At that point I am telling myself that the whole thing is pointless, I’m doing something utterly ridiculous and without merit and I should just give up and go and get a real job. But then, I push on and get into the swing of it, and suddenly that made-up person seems worthy, quite fully drawn and desperately in need of a voice, which only I can provide. Voila!
'Family is everything to Willa. Adopted at birth, her loving husband and son are her safe haven, and the ones she has clung to while numbed by the pain of a recent loss. When a letter arrives, it opens a path for Willa to re-engage with life: she has inherited a house halfway across the world, in a town she’s never heard of, from a woman she doesn’t know. Her only guess is that Lillian Brooks could have been her birth mother. Travelling to the inviting shores of Sisters Cove, Willa is entranced by the dilapidated old house she now owns, perched high on a windy cliff within the Merrivale Estate. But as she begins to look amongst the dusty photos and sealed boxes of papers left to her, it becomes clear that the truth about who Lillian really was is not at all what Willa expected. At Merrivale, social butterfly Annabelle is intrigued by Willa’s arrival. Unable to have children herself, she feels drawn to this fragile, younger woman and is inspired to help her mend the cracks in her heart. But as a friendship grows between the two, the dark truth that connects them is exposed, and both are forced to make choices about the risks they’ll take for family, love and forgiveness.'
An emotional, powerful novel full of dark secrets and family drama. Perfect for fans of The Silent Wife, Amanda Prowse and Sally Hepworth.
Sarah Clutton is an Australian author and former lawyer whose debut novel, Good Little Liars, mixes crime, nail-biting suspense, domestic drama and warm, clever characterisation. Having majored in psychology in her original degree, Sarah is fascinated by the human condition in all its forms. She is particularly interested in how our past shapes us, how we can learn empathy, the notion of loyalty, the world of money and privilege and the murky choices it can open up, and what ingredients determine the outcomes when moral and legal boundaries collide. Sarah’s work earned her the Dymocks/Fiona McIntosh Commercial Fiction Scholarship in 2018, a coveted national award run by one of Australia’s most successful commercial fiction authors and sponsored by Australia’s largest book chain. An alumna of the Australian Writers’ Centre novel writing course, and with a mostly-finished Master of Arts (in Writing) that she has no interest in finishing because she prefers making stuff up, Sarah lives with her husband and three children in the very pretty tourist town of Bowral, near Sydney. She has lived all over Australia, and if she didn’t live in Bowral, she would live in Hobart, the most beautiful city she knows.
Thank you Sarah for being my Mid-March Author Stalker victim. xx
The Daughter's Promise is available online through leading booksellers.
If you would like to find out more about Sarah you can find her here: